Victoirine Raherisoa Vololona – Madagascar

Victoirine Raherisoa Vololona – Madagascar

Date: June 30, 2015
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Vololona is a social worker at heart. She is the President of an Association that helps vulnerable children and women. She gives them humanitarian and financial help, including food. She works with people to make sure that they know their rights. She helps them to come out of poverty. “I do not believe in just giving money, but empowering people so that they can earn their own living.”

According to Vololona, “Madagascar is a patriarchal society, and men have always had it all. They have the best of everything.” Gender Links opened her eyes on gender discrimination, and after meeting Gender Links she has been working with vulnerable women and children in more structured and organised manner. “In Madagascar it is difficult for women to talk. After my training with Gender Links, I knew how to make them talk. I gave voices to the voiceless.”

Vololona has nothing but praise for Gender Links. “I learnt so much from Gender Links that not only I can express myself better, I am helping others to express themselves. I keep on explaining to women that they must not enter into a small shell and think that they are not capable.”

While Vololona has done her best to help women in difficult situations, as well as helping those in violent relationships, she told Gender Links a moving story about a woman she has helped. The woman lived in a violent relationship for a very long time, and Vololona helped her. “I encouraged this woman to talk. I gave her training so that she could control her life and come out of the violent relationship. I told her that she has rights and should not be afraid to contact the proper authorities.” Vololona was devasted to hear that the woman passed away. She left three children from 17 years old to 5 years old. Vololona is now helping them with basic necessities as well as their studies. “This story helped me even more to understand all the miseries that women have to go through.”

Having started an organisation called AFFAMI – Andry Fanabeazana Sy Fanarena Na Mirindra – Movement to help those in need to fight for human rights. This organization works to improve the quality of life for women and children. Vololona lives the mission and vision of her organisation. Through her organization, lots of women and children get psychological, emotional and financial help. Being the social worker that she is, Vololona brings this background and huge experience to the Council table. She feels that her mission is to help the vulnerable, and she does it in any way she can.

Life can be very cruel, although people seem to have a roof over their head and do not go to bed with an empty stomach. She told Gender Links about the story of a woman who contributed half with her husband to buy a house. It did not take long for the man to bring another woman home. He lived upstairs with his mistress while his wife had to stay downstairs. The wife could not bear this situation and left the house, taking her three children with her. Vololona helped her by giving her counseling, and sent her to a human rights organisation.

The personal satisfaction of Councillor Vololona is that people listen to her. She makes her voice heard in Council, as well in her NGO. She also has a good relationship with the media. “I was on radio recently on a special programme to explain to the population at large and especially woman how to plant cassava, and how to become self-sufficient. I talked about food security and told people how cassava can replace rice.

As part of the COE, Gender Links gave training on climate change and food security so when Vololona talks about planting cassava, Gender Links can take some of the credit. Since working with Gender Links, Vololona has felt really empowered. “It is difficult for a woman to be in politics in Madagascar, but the training of Gender Links has helped me to be confident, and value myself.” Vololona has another role model who is the former Minister of Population, Nadine Ramaroson. “She too was a good social worker, and I learned a lot from her. We did some social work together by helping women and children. We also helped quite a lot of children who were on the streets and not going to school. With the work we did with them I am so happy that they were rehabilitated and went to school.”

Vololona has the strong conviction that there must be more women in politics, and she would like to meet women politicians in the region so that they can share best practices and help each other. Her plan is to stand as a candidate in the election that will be held before the end of the year.


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